What no new deal would mean for Dalvin Cook, Vikings

Greeny offers advice to Dalvin Cook (1:53)

Mike Greenberg tells Dalvin Cook he should take a page out of Ezekiel Elliott's playbook and not take another snap until he gets a new deal. (1:53)

EAGAN, Minn. -- Dalvin Cook said all the right things Wednesday when asked whether he will work out a contract extension with the Minnesota Vikings before the start of the season on Sunday.

He says he's not worried, he knows he has to wait his turn and won't look around the NFL at other backs like the Bengals' Joe Mixon and the Saints' Alvin Kamara, who are getting new deals.

Cook, who is on the verge of playing out the final season of his rookie deal for $1.33 million, was subdued and didn't back down from the hard questions.

But how could you not be pressed? How could he not have anxiety over trying to lock up his financial future with the season looming, especially after risking his body to injury by going through training camp without a new deal?

And most importantly, what are Cook's camp and the Vikings waiting on?

Cook, 25, has been in a predicament for awhile. His camp and the Vikings reached an impasse over an extension offer the team expected him to sign in the middle of August. Since then, negotiations have been tabled. It's likely they'll pick up again real soon.

The friction between the Vikings and Cook's camp has been palpable. Issues over how the deal is structured, particularly with guarantees, is one reason for the holdup, according to sources close to the situation. Somehow it feels like this thing got personal.

"You go out and bust your tail and do what you've got to do and you expect a reward to come behind that," Cook said Wednesday. "I just hope the Vikings and my agent come to an agreement of a deal that values me."

That doesn't sound like someone who is confident in the way things are going.

Cook didn't directly say "yes" when asked whether he'll play without a new deal Sunday against the Green Bay Packers. He said if his name is called by Vikings coach Mike Zimmer, he would be out there. Whether he decides not to play in Week 1 and potentially risk losing an accrued season is a bridge that will be crossed if he doesn't have a new deal by 11:59 a.m. CT on Sunday.

It's possible Cook and his agent are waiting on the extension Kamara is expected to sign before going back to the table to get a deal done.

But Kamara's numbers shouldn't have too big of an effect on Cook. For one, Kamara hasn't had the health concerns of Cook, who has missed 19 games because of injury in his three seasons. And Kamara is used far more in the passing game as a receiver, with 81 catches in each of his first three seasons coupled with more than 2,000 yards receiving and 2,000 yards rushing. They're both terrific backs and game-changers, but Kamara likely will be paid more based on his first three seasons.

If Cook wants what Kamara likely gets -- $13-14 million per year -- a deal might never happen.

The reason this deal has to get done by Sunday is because of the depreciation of running backs. The second Cook takes a handoff his value to the Vikings decreases.

Minnesota doesn't strike deals in the middle of the season and most certainly wouldn't change that position for a running back.

But there is still time left to get something done. The Vikings are notorious for striking deals at the 11th hour, as they did by getting defensive end Everson Griffen to restructure in 2018, minutes before the deadline in free agency. And they signed linebacker Anthony Barr after he reneged on his verbal commitment to join the New York Jets a year later.

Cook should get a new deal and shouldn't play for far less than he's worth. If he does not get a new contract, he's headed down the path toward a possible franchise tag in 2021, which would be less than he would have made on the deal extended by the Vikings last month, according to sources.

For now, Cook is waiting. But how much longer is he willing to let this play out?